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'Abuse of powers': Drug dogs at Above & Beyond festival

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Here's the new NSW police approach to sniffer-dogs at festivals: if you float, you're a witch.


 

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'Abuse of powers': Drug dogs to be used to deny entry to Above and Beyond music show

By Sally Rawsthorne, 6 June 2018

 

Police plan to exclude or eject revellers from Saturday's Above and Beyond music event in Sydney if a drug detection dog sits next to them - even if police cannot find any drugs.

In a media release issued on Tuesday night, South West Metropolitan Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell said that anyone towards whom the dog "makes an indication" will be denied entry to the concert.

 

 

 

“Police will exclude any person from the venue that the drug dog indicates has or who has recently had drugs on them, regardless of whether drugs are located," the statement said.

“Quite simply, if you handle or use drugs you will not be permitted to remain at the venue."

A police spokeswoman confirmed that people whom a dog sits next to would not be arrested nor charged if they do not have drugs, only removed from the $130-a-ticket show.

 

NSW Police on Wednesday did not respond to questions about the efficacy of drug detection dogs, which has long been in question.

Statistics obtained from the state government show that, of searches conducted in 2011, a dog sat next to a person to indicate they might be carrying drugs in 14,102 cases. In 11,248 cases - approximately 80 per cent - no drugs were found.

 

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who runs the party's Sniff Off campaign, said the move was "a clear abuse of police powers".

“It’s not an offence to have a drug dog falsely indicate you are carrying drugs," he said on Wednesday morning.

 

“We have known for many years that between two-thirds and three-quarters of drug dog indications are false positives where people are not found to be carrying any drugs.

“It’s hard to see how this kind of action by police could be legal, seeing how it involves punishment in the absence of any offence.

“The war on drugs is war on young people, with little to no impact on public safety or crime,” Mr Shoebridge said.

 

The move is in stark contrast to the ACT's Groovin The Moo festival, during which, in April, the nation's first pill-testing program was implemented. More than 100 festivalgoers took part in the trial, with 85 samples tested. Half were found to be pure MDMA, while two samples were potentially deadly. (article here: More pill-testing at festivals on the cards after Canberra success )

 

 

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Why don't they just go the whole hog and intro the 'You're busted because I don't like the look of you' law... oh wait, we already have that one don't we? Different name perhaps? :huh:

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How is this even remotely legal?!?  Particularly with a self-confessed failure rate of 75%...

 

I have half a mind to cover myself in 'tincture', turn up at the gates and offer 'free hugs'...  (edit: not that i'd get many)

Edited by SayN
spotted flaw
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You might be right RC:

 

Above & Beyond promoter Richie McNeill, CEO of Hardware Corp,... said he believed he could tell which punters were carrying drugs, just by watching them entering the venue.

 

"You can feel the ones that looked guilty," he said.

 

Source

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That dude should get a job formulating drug policy!

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How great would it be if to prove how accurate these doggos are at their job, the police put them outside some prestigious bank or office building and prevented all that got sniffed at from entering :blink:

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Festival-goer barred for six months despite testing negative for drugs

Ben Graham, June 11, 20183:43pm

WHEN a festival-goer was stripsearched after a sniffer dog approached him at a music festival this weekend, he was stunned to find out he was being kicked out despite having no drugs on him. He was even more shocked when he was handed a notice from NSW Police saying he was barred from Sydney Olympic Park for six months. An image of the intimidating-looking document, handed out at Saturday’s Above & Beyond dance music festival, is sparking a massive backlash against police as it spreads on social media. The picture, which has been shared thousands of times, has stoked an angry reaction among music fans who say it is an abuse of police power.

NSW Police told news.com.au this afternoon the festival-goer was handed the notice not because of being stopped by a sniffer dog, but because of “bad behaviour”. He also didn’t have a ticket for the event, the police alleged.

 

However, a spokeswoman for anti-drug dog campaigners Sniff Off, who saw the booted-out music fan shortly after was handed the notice, rejected the police version of events. She said the festival-goer and his four friends had been arguing with the officers who conducted the strip search, which is why he was given the notice. Greens MP David Shoebridge told news.com.au his office had been contacted by five other festival attendees who were refused entry or kicked out simply because a police sniffer dog approached them. When police searched those who had been approached by the dogs, they had nothing incriminating on them. He said he has heard of “many more” music fans who were penalised on the night, which he called an “appalling attack on civil liberties”.

 

“We’ve now seen two appalling attacks on civil liberties in the one night,” he said. “People have been refused entry to a cultural event due to the judgement of a dog and then the police have doubled down on that by banning them for the entire Olympic Precinct for six months.

“It is a new, noxious development. “We have known for over a decade, that these dogs get it wrong up to 75 per cent of the time. But, up until now, people haven’t been punished for them getting it wrong.” Above & Beyond tickets cost upwards of $128. News.com.au has tried to contact the festival organisers to ascertain whether those wrongly tested and booted out would be offered a refund.

However, a spokeswoman for Sniff Off said the organisation was now “seeking legal counsel” on behalf of those affected to challenge what it calls an “abuse of police powers”. Thousands shared and commented on a picture of the six-month ban notice on social media — with many accusing the police of being too harsh.

“NSW cops are the definition of the fun police,” said one Facebook commenter.

“This is a clear abuse of power,” wrote another.

 

Police have not released any information about how many people, if any, were arrested on drugs charges at Above & Beyond. Thirteen people were ejected for drunkenness.

 

Mr Shoebridge said the “extraordinarily strong” online backlash against the notices had effectively silenced NSW Police. “This the first time ever that I’ve seen the police not put out a press release or a social media post after a drug operation at a music festival,” he said. “They have been utterly silenced and I think they have been shamed into silence.”

 

Before the event, NSW Police warned punters that drug detection dogs will be out in full force, stating that they would deny entry to anyone found to have illicit substances on them. They also said patrons would be refused entry if a dog detected the presence of prohibited drugs on them — even if no drugs were actually found in a search. “Police will exclude any person from the venue that the drug dog indicates has or who has recently had drugs on them, regardless of whether drugs are located,” South West Metropolitan Region commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell said. “Quite simply, if you handle or use drugs you will not be permitted to remain at the venue.”

 

It’s understood that this is the third time NSW Police have used this strategy at a Sydney music festival, after State of Trance in April and Midnight Mafia in May.

 

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Organisers promise full refund to fans who are turned away

Above & Beyond promoter Richie McNeill, CEO of Hardware Corp, told Hack he had agreed to NSW Police's request to deploy the new strategy at the event. He said the venue organiser has the right to refuse punter's entry, and he understood this right had been passed to NSW Police. "Ultimately the venue is the one that makes the decision but yes we gave them permission to do it [turn people away]," he said. He said he believed he could tell which punters were carrying drugs, just by watching them entering the venue. "You can feel the ones that looked guilty," he said.

 

 

byron splendour drug dogs

Know your rights when it comes to drug searches

You can register your non-consent for a search, but you must comply with police orders.

 

 

McNeill also organised State of Trance in April. He said about 40 people were turned away because of drug dog detections, out of a total attendance of 14,000. "We had two that looked legitimately stressed like they had nothing on them," he said. "But the others ... we knew what was going on and they knew what was going on."

Criminal lawyer Greg Goold questioned whether the ticket-holders turned away could take the organiser to court, given they hadn't done anything illegal that would have broken the contract.

 

McNeill said he didn't know the statistics for drug dog false positives. When he was told how often they got it wrong, he said "that's pretty alarming".

He said he had freely agreed to the police plan, although without police support the event wouldn't have happened: "We have to or there's no event basically."

 

He confirmed the organisers would fully refund ticket-holders who are turned away because of drug dog detection but don't have drugs.

 

 

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Would i be right in saying these dogs can't even detect all substances? Surely odourless LSD or food stuff such as mushrooms can be let in. I'm sure certain dangerous substances too. Just seems like the cops don't like molly 

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This is some shady, shady shit right here. At first when I heard of this strategy I just assumed it was a festival organiser working a con -  sell 2000 tickets to an 1800-head venue, make sure there's both a "morals clause" & a "no refunds, ref's decision is final" section in the ticket fineprint... and then just get the dog squad (who you have to pay for anyway to get your event permit) to moonlight as your bouncers and thin down the herd...

 

But no, the organisers are [supposedly] refunding those tickets. So they are paying the cops to kick people out, even when there were no drugs & those people will need to be reimbursed.

 

As far as all the legal claims... these are private events, right? So can't they pretty much make up whatever rules they like about who gets to attend? I didn't think discrimination law covered stuff like this. I'm curious to know exactly what argument these civil-rights/legal-aid people are using.

 

The six-month ban from Olympic Park though, that is complete bullshit. I understand now why they wanted to trial their awful new scheme at this event in particular - so they would have all of the Park-specific regs to fall back on wherever their sniffer-dog-powers were insufficient. Because yeah, Aussie cops need more petty bullshit laws to invoke until that "lookin' at me funny" one gets hammered out properly...

 

SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK AUTHORITY REGULATION 2012 is a captivating read, here's some highlights:

 

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13 Personal conduct

(1) A person must not do any of the following at Sydney Olympic Park:
(a) use indecent, obscene, insulting or threatening language,
(b) behave in an offensive or indecent manner,
(c) cause serious alarm or affront to a person by disorderly conduct,
(d) obstruct a person in the performance of the person's work or duties,
(e) fail to comply with a reasonable request or direction given for the purpose of securing good order and management and enjoyment of Sydney Olympic Park, or any part of Sydney Olympic Park, by the Authority, a police officer or an authorised person.
Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units.
(2) Without limiting subclause (1) (e), it is reasonable for the Authority, a police officer or an authorised person to request a person:
(a) to open any bag, container or other thing in the person's possession in order that its contents may be inspected, and
(b) to permit any thing in the person's possession, and the contents of any such thing, to be inspected.
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19 Authority may ban persons for specified period

(1) The Authority may ban a person from entering any part of Sydney Olympic Park for such period (not exceeding 6 months) as the Authority determines if the person contravenes any provision of this Regulation.
(2) A person who has been banned from entering any part of Sydney Olympic Park must not attempt to enter that part during the period of that ban.
Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

 

A "penalty unit" is $110, btw. So if you were banned from the Park (because you dared to question why you still being denied entry to the event after the negative strip-search, for instance), you can then be fined $2,200 if you try to come back in at any time during that ban. Six months is apparently also the maximum period they're allowed to ban someone for just looking at a cop funny - for longer bans they actually need you to run out onto the track/field during an event.

 

So whaddya reckon, did those thirteen drunk-&-disorderlies all get slapped with the max penalties as well? $1,100 fine & a 6-month ban? Or did the people who smelled a bit like [unspecified drugs] get punished worse than the people who were actually intoxicated nuisances?

 

And if you sometimes have work duties in Olympic Park? Well, I guess you're unemployed now.

 

Edited by Anodyne
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14 minutes ago, TheMooseZeus said:

Would i be right in saying these dogs can't even detect all substances? Surely odourless LSD or food stuff such as mushrooms can be let in. I'm sure certain dangerous substances too. Just seems like the cops don't like molly 

Well "all substances" is a pretty broad net - it's probably not wildly cost-efficient to train dogs to detect DiPT, say - while for other drugs like some fentanyl analogues a "dose" might be below detection threshold. And assuming that cops train their dogs similarly to how customs train theirs - the dogs are being trained to detect street drugs, not pure compounds - which sometimes means that the compound(s) the dog is sniffing out is a synthetic-byproduct or breakdown product of the actual scheduled drug....

 

In practice, there are several factors which all encourage police drug dogs to give false-positive indications, so there's a good chance you'll get flagged for searching anyway, regardless of what you smell like. I'm pretty bloody sure that the dogs don't indicate what drug they're supposed to have detected (at least, the human officers have never answered this question when I've asked), so in effect this comes down to a cop leading a dog up to you while 5 of his mates surround you and then say "you've been flagged by the drug dog, do you give us permission to search you ?"

The "...or would you like to continue this conversation under these stairs where there are no security cameras" bit is usually just left implied, as is the "we know the dog didn't sit down, but six police officers will swear in court that it did - so do you want to try your "scruffy hippy" testimony against that with an overworked free legal-aid lawyer, or do you want to take your shirt off?"

 

So yes you're correct - while they're understandably cagey about releasing [any more] details of the limitations of their drug dogs - there's a good chance the dogs can't (or just aren't trained to) detect many, many different psychoactive substances. Doesn't mean you won't be searched anyway - so those mushrooms had better look 100% supermarket-ready AND be going into a BYO food venue if you want to try the "food stuff" defence.

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I was discussing this case with friends on the weekend and we wondered what the ramifications of turning up at the event, without a ticket, without drugs, without identification but reeking of drugs...  if there were enough of us wouldn't this frustrate and, to some extent, foil the police operation?  is this form of civil disobedience unlawful?  are you required to identify yourself?

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On 13/06/2018 at 8:30 AM, SayN said:

... is this form of civil disobedience unlawful?  are you required to identify yourself?

Answers are "probably yes, in this specific location/situation", and "definitely yes".

 

You are required to identify yourself to cops who ask in certain circumstances (this being one - more detailed  rundown here ). If you refuse you can be fined ($220 in this situation, but up to $5500 +gaoltime in others) AND detained until they are able to confirm your identity. If you're planning mischief,  be sure to carry valid ID, or have a friend standing by to bring it to wherever you're being held (& then hope you're allowed to call them).

 

That's in general - and then Olympic Park has its own regulations as well (link above), which would let them give you an additional $1100 fine plus a 6-month ban from the premises for any kind of misbehavior/interference/not-cooperating. At least that's how I read 13d & 13e of those regs - maybe talk to some free legal aid people to confirm that, but I think this specific case might not the best choice for exercising your civil disobedience?

 

As a little extra bullshit on top of the steaming pile, there are also "no photography" areas of Olympic Park... guess where the police chose to set up their dog operations? So depending on what action you were planning & the police response you expected at that particular event, that might either be irrelevant, or Very Bad. I'd be looking at other locations?

 

Then again, I assume the police chose this event for their operation with full awareness of the extra powers they have there - so I'd be on the lookout for similar loopholes at any future events they target with this shit.

Edited by Anodyne
(fuck it's hard to type while on the bus)

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On 6/13/2018 at 8:00 AM, SayN said:

is this form of civil disobedience unlawful?  are you required to identify yourself?

Mate you do have to identify your self, but I can;t see why this would be illegal. If nothing else it would increase the ratio of false positives, which should help the cause in the long run.

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On 6/12/2018 at 10:52 PM, Anodyne said:

As far as all the legal claims... these are private events, right? So can't they pretty much make up whatever rules they like about who gets to attend?

At the end of the day the police do not work for the festival organiser, even if he has to pay to have them there. They are public servants. If it is the police themselves. Not one of the organisers staff, who may be standing with them, that are turning people away? Then civil rights lawyers should have something to work with. It gets a little trickier if they are not turning them away from the event itself, rather from a public park. 

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I feel for all of you festival goers down that way. Big Brother has recently stepped up the sniffer dog campaign here. We now have a dog squad based permanently., searching boats, planes, mail and turning up randomly where ever people congregate. All for a population of only a couple of thousand.

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7 hours ago, Crop said:

Mate you do have to identify your self, but I can;t see why this would be illegal.

Yeah you're right - I guess that to me the phrase "civil disobedience" implies a certain ... intent to be uncooperative. But crayzman suggested nothing like that, so yes, such a plan would be legal.

 

Right up until the cops figure out the game after the first few ticketless ppl they try to refuse entry... then at that point all they need to do is shout out "everyone without a ticket get out of the queue/area" and hey presto, "just standing here" becomes "failure to follow a reasonable order given by a police officer in the execution of their duties" (or whatever it is). 

 

Having a ticket checkpoint at a barrier anywhere before the dog-search area would also foil any queue-mobbing plan. And I guess it depends on venue, but from what I've seen they do seem to like this tactic of corralling people -  I think because it means there's another barrier behind you by the time you see the dogs, so it's really obvious if you try to retreat to avoid a search at that point.

 

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On 6/12/2018 at 3:17 PM, TheMooseZeus said:

Would i be right in saying these dogs can't even detect all substances? Surely odourless LSD or food stuff such as mushrooms can be let in. I'm sure certain dangerous substances too. Just seems like the cops don't like molly 

 

Drug sniffing dogs are an expensive means to catch a couple of party goers

I also imagine you'd need a top class dog to perform all that effectively in such a crowded drug packed environment

 

If you just want to use them as scare tactics it's a whole different story though, can use any old dog for this :P

 

 

 

 

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I wanna be a drug-sniffing dog
So I can snort coke all day long
Bite my master when it suits me
Get off on diminished capacity

I wanna be a customs man
Snoop through your stuff 'cause I can
Sneaky peaky pry through your private lives
Stroke your panties, jackin' off at lunch

Weh oh, Weh oh ho
Sure beats Alpo

It's the life
It's the stink
It's the attitude

I wanna be a San Francisco cop
So I can speed and run red lights
And sure as Rodney was a King
We got ways to make you sing

It's the life
It's the stink
It's the attitude

We can seize everything
Houses, cars, and life savings
Keep the loot for ourselves
Fake drug charge works every time

I wanna join the christian coalition
So I can molest my children
None suspect me 'cause I've been saved
'Til my stepdaughter drowns her kids in a lake

Weh oh, Weh oh ho
Spare rod, spoil the child

It's the life
It's the stink
Choose your masks

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I know that its off topic, but i have wondered. Since dogs smell tends to pick up individual odors from a mixed bag of smells. If one were to eat dog meat for a week or three, Would the dogs pick up on the fact that you are something that eats dogs, and avoid you? Just wondering if there might be a deep seated predator prey response in there somewhere? 

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Hmmm, well there’s definitely a deep-seated predator/prey thing going on here, 100%, but I don’t think the actual dogs themselves are too involved in that particular aspect of it.

As for eating dogs for a period of time to find out if dogs will avoid you, I think it’s still legal in some parts of China. Granted, it’s a long way to go to find out but in the name of science...

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12 hours ago, freakazoid said:

As for eating dogs for a period of time to find out if dogs will avoid you, I think it’s still legal in some parts of China. Granted, it’s a long way to go to find out but in the name of science...

 

It's legal here in Australia too.

 

At least, that's what the RSPCA website tells me (no irony)

 

Some states will even pay you to kill the dogs. You need to hand in the scalps as proof though, so you'll have to choose between the bounty or sewing yourself a dog-scalp patchwork coat for dog-intimidation purposes. Can't have everything I suppose.

 

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^ Wow, that RSPCA page was an eye opener. There was an interesting part about; You could face litigation if the killing was deemed unnecessary by the court, regardless of humaneness. I wonder if that could apply to abbatoirs? but that's going OT.

 

So now we are in a place where if you show up to an event ( in Homebush ) in a Pomeranian-skin onesy that you made yourself from scratch :wink: then; no worries at all, in you hop, but, if a person in, say, an evening gown inadvertently walks through a puddle of bongwater ( it happens ) on their way there then "Fuck off, ya filthy druggo."

 

 

 

It got bad press through, so there's that...

 

Edited by freakazoid
spelling

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7 hours ago, freakazoid said:

So now we are in a place where if you show up to an event ( in Homebush ) in a Pomeranian-skin onesy that you made yourself from scratch :wink: then; no worries at all, in you hop, but, if a person in, say, an evening gown inadvertently walks through a puddle of bongwater ( it happens ) on their way there then "Fuck off, ya filthy druggo."

 

 

 

That's what they want you to think yes

 

Those doge's aren't trained to smell drugs though, and pretty sure bongwater will repell them

 

You can easily try this for yourself, just bring 2 friends carrying assorted drugs and have a sausage in your pocket yourself. Now see who will be the first one to get frisked :P

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